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Lost wisdom
A dental moment

August 1, 2003
The Iranian

I lie in this cold, plastic chair, and look up at the drab ceiling, bored out of my mind. Light, classical music plays in the background like the soundtrack to some movie, the kind whose plot you can never understand. My hands grip the chair handles and my unpainted nails begin to carve into the sliding textures, as if gripping onto some hope that this will all be over soon. As if my nails scorching a path along the baby blue chair will make a difference to my situation.

No. I came here for a purpose. A routine wisdom tooth removal. Four removals to be exact. Removal sounds so much more tidy than "pulling" and "extraction", doesn't it? Of course it does...

So, I wait. Ten minutes early, I sit there bored listless. A million awkward thoughts are flooding through my brain at once. I see the nurse in the background, standing behind the window. Then I have a weird flashback to Noshahr 1991 when I had that stomach flu and we went to the third story of that building situated right above the restaurant owned by the Rashty guy who made the best mahi I'd ever tasted.

I remembered the doctor's office, in the middle of the busy street, third story window, they leaned me over the bed, my head slightly sticking out of the open window, my nostrils taking in the scent of sir torshi, as the shot went "Booooommm" into my bottom and I screamed, bringing the entire street below me to standstill.

Back to the here and now, American suburbia, no fish or torshi, just the nurse in the blue medical fatigues, standing guard. Does she think her being on the other side of the glass stops me from seeing the size of that organic needle? It's huge! Huger than humongous. I think that that's the needle they used to put the dog Beethoven to sleep with. I wonder whether or not it's sterile. It must be the Iranian in me...

Then the clock strikes twelve noon. The entourage of nurses follow the doctor in. Typical Iranian surgeon. Rolex watch that's a little too sparkly for my comfort. A ring bulging out from under his plastic gloves. Whitened hair colored over for the millionth time with Clairol's Dark Ash Brown. He smiles at me and I know I am gonna be a goner.

Why are they insisting on knocking me out? So what if it takes a few extra shots to numb me up? Do they think I can't handle the sight of blood? What in the world gave them that idea...?

Then the tip of the humongo-needle pricks my whitened skin, entering my system uninvited as the sleep potion flows through me, even touching my soul. I have been told that all I will feel is darkness, sleep, comfort.

Nothing has prepared me for what I am about to experience.

My entire life flashes before my eyes in this fog-covered land. The grass is greener than any bright hue I have ever layed eyes upon and the ocean that runs alongside it is deeper than the bluest of blues. I look around and see faces, they belong to the past, to the present..

Grandmother is there, holding my grandpa's arm, they stand like soldiers, greeting me at the gates. I smile at seeing them together and float onward...

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By Assal Badrkhani





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